August 11, 2014
On the morning of April 19, 1775, British troops marched into Lexington, Massachusetts. They were met by a small group of patriots on the village green. The minutemen were armed and ready to protect their homes and families. While it is true that their guns were used for hunting food and for protection, they also kept weapons handy in case they had to stop tyranny in its tracks. That is why they could not, and would not obey the command to throw down their arms.
It is not up to me to do your research for you. I have done a more than adequate amount to be able to tell you that the following is reliable and has a common thread among those who possess spiritual insight. After the British had sent a volley or more of shot into those good men, eight of them lay dead, with others wounded. Some of them were shot in the back, since their own leader had ordered them to disperse.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Almost all the dead and wounded were members of the church, and their pastor, Jonas Clark, had stood with them in the midst of the brief conflict. Caleb Harrington was shot dead on the steps of the church. He was going back into the meeting house to get more powder, since that is where it was stored. The primary edifice on the green was the church building, so the fight had taken place in front of the church. Clark had repeatedly warned his flock about the coming danger to their freedom and liberty from the tyranny they faced. His own diary is a record of what took place in the pulpits and other small communities as well as his own.
In 1864, J. T. Headley wrote of the broad involvement of clergy and believers in the events that lead to the Revolution. His book was entitled The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution. The book was first published by Charles Scribner of New York. Headley identified a long list of pastors who personally and publicly opposed the tyranny of the king. They fully understood the responsibility of the believer to obey constituted authority as God’s rule, but they also understood that life, liberty, and freedom were gifts from God.
The involvement of the clergy in energizing the coming conflict did not include the loyalists of the Church of England who were, by duty of the church, bound to the king. The Quakers were pacifists and therefore opposed any fighting. There were others who opposed the coming conflict, but the record indicates that the number of these dissenters was smaller. The Colonial army was made up of local militias; and since the pastor was often the only professional in town, in many cases he led the men of his parish into battle. Like it or not, these are the general facts behind that great event known as the American Revolution.
DID THESE MEN SIN?
I will let you do your own study on the above. There are hundreds of books on the subject. There are some who feel that their action had been wrong and that the patriots sinned in what they did. Often these individuals fail to fully study the wrongful actions of the king which brought this separation. There are others who have gone to the scriptures to demonstrate that the separatists were wrong. What I have found, however, is that in almost every case these writers have limited their view to a few proof texts without reflecting on the whole of this teaching.
Any serious student of this issue will want to read Headley’s book. It is now published as the Forgotten Heroes of Liberty by Solid Ground Christian Books of Birmingham, AL.
The current issue of the World Magazine, published in Ashville, North Carolina, has an article worth your reading. Rod D. Martin writes “Was the American Revolution sinful”? Not only does he cite the Bible texts where the legitimate authority must be obeyed, but he is careful to look at the scriptures that deal with exceptions. No thinking person could believe that all laws made by temporal authority are to be obeyed. For instance, you would not obey a law that said your wife must abort a baby if she already had two children. Martin also deals with the issue of constituted authority and what happens when authority breaks its covenant with the people.
Finally, there is the continuing debate over the doctrine of the “right of revolution” when constituted authority is replaced by tyranny. I leave you on your own with this one.
THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
My own doctoral dissertation was abridged and printed some years ago. It has recently been republished by Faithful Life Publishers of North Fort Myers, FL, under the title The Coming Conflict. This is the heart of the issue. What does the entire Bible teach about this subject? While all the records of history may only provide some of the facts, the Bible is crystal clear on the relationship between the church and state. This is not a political issue; it is a theological issue, so secular views have to take a back seat.
Now our nation stands on the verge of an internal conflict. Tyranny rules the administration, the courts, and public opinion. The unlearned on the right tend to be too quick to respond. The academic community has rewritten the rules. The left has given credence and support to those who want biblical Christianity removed from the fabric of our country. Where does that leave you? I suggest you read, study, pray, and get ready to obey God.
Shepherd's Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min
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